FAYETTEVILLE – Jasmine Norton tallied a match-high 17 kills as the University of Arkansas volleyball team swept past Ole Miss (25-23, 28-26, 25-23) Friday evening at Barnhill Arena. Kelli Stipanovich added 10 kills and Raymariely Santos directed Arkansas’ offense with 41 assists. The Razorbacks finished the night with a .268 hitting percentage.
Norton (17 kills and 10 digs) and Santos (41 assists and 12 digs) both posted double-double performances in the win. Freshman libero Christa Alvarez registered a match-high 19 digs while Amanda Anderson and Roslandy Acosta led the team’s efforts at the net with four total blocks each. Arkansas out-dug the Rebels, 58-53, in Friday’s match.
"We did some very good things tonight," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "We were able to play effectively from the front and from behind. That was something we’ve been talking about. I thought our effort was good throughout. Our execution, at times, lacked but our energy was consistent and we were able to find our play in clutch situations."
Ole Miss (5-14, 1-10 SEC) jumped out to an early advantage in set one and led 5-2 after a kill from Allegra Wells. The visitors’ lead grew to 14-9 after consecutive service aces by Kara Morgan. After a timeout, the Razorbacks began to chip away at their deficit and with a kill on an overpassed ball by Charmaine Whitmore, Arkansas (13-8, 5-5 SEC) was back to within one. The Rebels used a quick push to go back ahead by three, 19-16.
With her team down three, Alvarez stepped to the service line and won four points in a row, including an ace. The run of points gave the Razorback their first lead of the match. Stipanovich gave Arkansas set point with her third kill of the game. Ole Miss saved one set point but on the next play, Norton found the floor to give Arkansas the set win, 25-23.
In the opening stages of the second set, neither team could distance from the other and battled to a 10-10 tie. The Razorbacks won the next four points behind two kills each from Acosta and Anderson. The home team held on to its lead until Ole Miss strung together five points in a row to take a 21-19 lead. Norton had Arkansas’ next three kills to put the team ahead and begin a back-and-forth ending.
The Rebels arrived at set point, 24-22, after setter Amanda Philpot found the back line with a second-ball attack. Once again, Arkansas turned to Norton who put down two consecutive kills to even the score. After a service error from Kasey Heckelman, Ole Miss had another set point but Norton kept the Razorbacks alive with another kill. Stipanovich gave Arkansas set point with a solo block and an attack error by Wells on the ensuing play gave the Razorbacks the set, 28-26.
Norton totaled 10 kills in the second set. In a game that featured several extended rallies, the Razorbacks posted 31 second-set digs including 11 from Alvarez.
Arkansas closed out the match with another come-from-behind effort in the third set. With the score tied at 13-13, the Rebels put together a four-point run to take control of play. From that point, the teams played even until a kill by Regina Thomas gave Ole Miss a 21-18 lead. The Razorbacks responded with a 4-0 push of their own and took a 22-21 lead, capped by a service ace from Norton.
The visitors tied the score on the next play with a kill by Wells but Heckelman brought Arkansas to match point with a kill on an overpassed ball. On the team’s second chance to close out the match, Norton pounded the final kill of the night to send the Razorbacks to the straight-set victory. Prior to Friday’s match, both teams wore pink t-shirts during warm ups in support of the Razorbacks’ Dig for the Cure event. Arkansas’ official Red + White = Pink t-shirts are now available at Hog Heaven in Bud Walton Arena and Academy Sports + Outdoors in its Fort Smith and Rogers locations.
The Razorbacks return to the court for their weekend finale Sunday afternoon against Alabama. First serve of the Western Division matchup is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. (CT) start at Barnhill Arena. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.